on January 25, 2011
Destroyer's Kaputt is that rare album where you know if you're going to love it in the first two minutes. With that in mind, opener Chinatown is a lush, gorgeous pop gem with a jazzy sway and really brilliant instrumentation that evokes a kind of mid-afternoon in paradise feel. Distant horns, slinky bass, and cavernous drums create a feeling of an endless blue sky, the kind you simply walk underneath until you can't walk another step. Bejar's vocals on the record remind me of a more restrained Torquil Campbell, breathy and highly emotive, and yearning for something that no one can quite describe.
The sound of this record is pure and clean, groovy, jazzy, and totally steeped in melody. The hooks are strong and will pull you into the record in minutes, but the album isn't without a darker edge, as evidenced by the epic closer, Bay of Pigs. The song is rightfully named, evoking the tropical feel of Cuba and pairing it with an ominous, foreboding sound.
It's tough for me to say too much about this album because I'm busy getting sucked back into it as I write. Doubtlessly, this will close out the year as one of the best of 2011. I can't recommend it enough, pick it up.
on January 26, 2011
Dan Bejar, the man behind such great acts as The New Pornographers and Destroyer, seems to have gotten lost in 1982. He's made a beautifully time altering album that literally makes me feel I have just walked into a brooding angst ridden teens bedroom in the 1980s with the sweet sounds of jazz sax, synth, and smooth bass. This is just such an amazingly chill album but at the same time makes you feel like breaking out those cheesy dance moves from middle school dances from the 80s. I can't imagine anyone hating this album, easily the best of 2011 so far and it will most likely have a high spot in my end of the year list.
Stand out tracks include -
Savage Night at the Opera
Bay of Pigs
But the rest are in no way filler, give it a listen, get lost, enjoy.
on January 26, 2011
I just received the vinyl version of Kaputt. When I ordered it I was expecting the usual goodies that accompany a $20+ vinyl release: beautiful packaging, good artwork, and a great sounding record. Well I got all of that, and more. In addition to the regular songs that are available on the CD or digital download, it came with over 20 minutes of extra music. Most of it is instrumental, punctuated with occasional vocal flourishes. All of the extra tracks seem like a perfect complement to what is already such a great record. If you love the relaxing production of the main record, then you deserve to hear the rest.
I know this is early, and likely a bit rash... but I'm going to call it album of the year. I know there will be other better known artists releasing big titles this year... like the Strokes, Decemberists, Iron & Wine, Death Cab for Cutie, Bright Eyes, etc. The thing is that with all of those artists we can pretty much know what to expect - records which are at least as good or not quite as good as their previous efforts. With Kaputt, Destroyer has not only made music that he hasn't made before, he's made music that I've never heard before (and I've heard a lot of music). This is a seriously good record, and I can't express enough how happy I am about having the vinyl version show up with the extra tracks. I'm sure that in the not too distant future the bonus stuff will be available on a special edition CD or download, but for now the best experience to be had is with the LP.
on January 27, 2011
This may be the disc that puts Dan Bejar on the map as not just a mad musical genius who creates indie rock for music geeks (like myself) and occasionally records and plays with the New Pornographers, but as an artist who is on the verge of envisioning the way music might sound in this current decade.
Kaputt is almost certain at this stage of the game to be on many Best of 2011 lists and rightly so. It is an immaculately produced gem that really can't be compared to anything that has been released in the last 25 years. You can compare it to Avalon or Aja, and yes, it is that well-produced and incorporates jazzy flourishes like trumpet, sax, female backing vocals, ambient sounds and fretless bass. But it would be too easy to say it sounds like something else. It has a sound that is retro yet extremely modern. One thing it does not sound like is any of Destroyer's eight albums before it.
Like all of Destroyer's classics, like Streethawk: A Seduction and Rubies, Kaputt borrows from the past, but incorporates past styles into a style that is undeniably the sound of Destroyer. Bejar's voice is in top form here - always passionate, he has toned down to fit the style of the album, and his vocals I have to say are beautiful. Bejar is enhanced by Sibel Thrasher, who provides spine-tingling melodies on Blue Eyes and Downtown. The intro to Blue Eyes alone is pure musical bliss.
The trumpet and sax flourishes work to create a tapestry along with the driving bass and striking guitar solos by Destroyer stalwart Nicolas Bragg. This is a headphone album and you will hear sounds on repeated listens that you never heard the first time around. There is so much musical interplay going on in the title track and Suicide Demo for Kara Walker I just listen amazed.
I had already heard Bay of Pigs (and reviewed it) when Destroyer released the EP back in 2009, but it fits perfectly at the end of the album and has been modified on the last few verses to include Sibel Thrasher's vocals. I said back then that it signalled a new sound and I was curious to see where it lead. Well this is where's it lead... amazing!
Is this Destroyer's best? Possibly. There isn't a bad track on it - it is fantastic from start to finish. However it is the most accessible of Destroyer's immense body of work and may transition them out of cult status. It is a brilliant production, and makes you realize that not only is Dan Bejar an exceptional songwriter is also a musical visionary. If you have not heard this album, I recommend you do so now.
on February 8, 2014
One of the best releases of 2011 hands down. What I love about this album basically comes down to texture and atmosphere. Basically, it sounds absolutely gorgeous. The airy synths, warm bass, crystalline acoustic guitars, and relaxed vocals give this album such a cool, silky-smooth vibe that I just can’t help but be swallowed by. Every track on here just oozes this atmosphere, albeit without much variation but I enjoy the sound so much that this is hardly a problem for me.
The other thing that really pushes this album to the next level is the lyrics. They have a very cynical, sarcastic wit to them and focus on the dark, hypocritical side of America among other things. This seems to be very at-odds with the soothing sound of the music, which is what makes everything resonate so much more. It’s like the music itself is just a further sarcasm, purposefully syrupy and tame to make the lyrics even more snide and insincere. Whether I’m analyzing the album on this deeper level or simply soaking up the sound of the music, I always end the album with the urge to start it again.
on July 15, 2012
There's something really awful about many indie-bands -- its the sense of irony that many carry. This irony is used as a way to distance the listener from the artist's true feelings; in many ways, it's a protective tool. Destroyer's full length KAPUTT feels completely devoid of this ironic distance that has plagued a lot of recent music. The album is an exercise in easy listening, jazzy, smokey, soft-rock, but there's nothing cheeky about it. It's completely straight-faced and serious.
KAPUTT isn't a record for everyone, and I don't mean this in a "oh, you just don't understand" way -- the soft, jazzy atmospheres that carry each song will probably bore some listeners. Most of the tracks here are midtempo affairs, and Bejar's voice generally stays around soft-crooning and whisper levels. The opening track, "Chinatown," will probably serve as a good divining rod to determine who will like the record and who won't. It's breezy, smokey, littered with saxophone and trumpet solos, and backed with support female harmonies. The song is also a good indicator for Bejar's rich, story-driven lyricism. While many critics cite Destroyer's sound as being mired in the 1980's, there is plenty of nuance here that sets it apart from being just an empty homage to past music. Destroyer's sound doesn't change too much from this early point until the final track, "Bay of Pigs." It's an 11+ minute jam that covers a wide berth of musical ground, covering the aforementioned jazzy soft-rock, to 70's prog, to late 60's glam. This track sticks out a bit, as it wasn't originally recorded for KAPUTT but was released a few years back as a single. It's ending, finishing with acoustic strumming serves well to loop right back into "Chinatown."
Fans of Bon Iver, Beach House, LCD Soundsystem, and some of David Bowie's work in the 80's will find a lot to love here. Standout tracks include "Chinatown," "Savage Night at the Opera," and "Suicide Demo for Kara Walker." I'd recommend those who are interested to check out these tracks (whether it be sampling, streaming, or downloading); they will give a good indication of what this album holds. While I enjoyed this album quite a bit in the moment, it just isn't one that I keep coming back to. KAPUTT is great for its dreamy, textured soundscapes, but it doesn't hang in the room after it ends.
(Additional Release Information)
Fans of Destroyer should seek out the vinyl version of KAPUTT. This version includes a record called The Laziest River that includes:
"The Laziest River"
"Palm Springs Life"
"Landing on Water."
on December 11, 2013
I listen to all kinds of music, and this is one of those great albums that's really hard to pin a genre too. Contemporary-soft-jazz-poetry-alternative-rock? I guess that'll do.
Whatever it is, it's one of my favorite albums to come out of 2011. I would say that the songwriting is a little "indulgent' at times wiht some of the expanded intros/outros, but I think that adds to the charm of when the songs finally kick in.
Also, I've seen them play much of this album live, and I truly, truly believe that Dan Bejar knows what it means to be "strung out in the rain."
on June 19, 2011
This album is currently leading the race for the title of 'Best Album of 2011'. I have listened to it constantly for the past few months and cannot seem to tire of the music on this album. I am a huge fan of Roxy Music, and Destroyer faithfully have channeled musical energy from this time and space to create a modern interpretation of this new wave/romantic style. Every track on the album is fantastic, and it is an album that will reveal new favourite songs to you over time at different points in your life. I have had trouble picking my favourite songs on the album, as last week it was 'Poor in Love', yet this week it is 'Downtown'. This is without mentioning the amazing final track 'Bay of Pigs (Detail)' that makes you stop in time and space for 11 minutes to get lost in the ambient beauty of it.
I think what has made the album even more enjoyable for me is that the first time I listened to it all the way through I learned/played the bass in each song as I went through it, picking it up as I went along. This involvement on the first listen created a real connection with the music, and even months later since I first got the album it remains fresh in my mind. Not to mention that the bass is the driving force of every song on the album (bar first halves of 'Poor in love' and 'Bay of Pigs'), and any album that features loud, pure, and addictive bass always makes me love the music even more.
Dan's vocals on the album are really beautiful. Some say his voice is an acquired taste but I think that is rubbish. His voice is a simple thing - it's pure and is as it is, with it's own personality revealing itself to the listener with nothing to hide. He isn't a 'great' singer, but, as David Byrne once said: "The better the singers voice is, the harder it is to believe what they are saying." This is apt here, as his voice is imperfect, but it suits this music to a key.
Conclusively, the album is one of the most enduring pieces of music to come out of the year 2011 so far. It is sexy - but not sleazy, funky - but not over complicated, and most of all it sounds really great. The songs themselves make you feel optimistic and positive about life, and the music works really well when on a walk or relaxing in your lounge room on a warm Sunday afternoon. I wouldn't be surprised if this album is looked back upon in 30 years as I myself look back fondly of albums from David Bowie, Roxy Music, Pink Floyd, or the Beatles now. It sounds timeless, and I have no doubt in my mind that it will sound as fresh as it does in 30 years as it does today.
on January 10, 2012
(Taken from my blog at [...])
With "Kaputt", Destroyer main-man Dan Bejar manages to craft a floating cloud of sound that is awash in memories but distinct in tone. Some of his songwriting reminds me of David Bowie (VERY high compliment coming from me) with his voice sounding bittersweet, even when delivering dark thoughts. It's a dreamy album, launched into the stratosphere with opening track "Chinatown" and never stopping until it's over.
A mood piece, for sure, but an incredibly accomplished one. To be honest, Destroyer was never really on my radar until this album and now I can fully say that I am definitely a fan. It's dance-y at points and makes you feel as if you're living in 1970's limelight; at other points, time doesn't exist at all and you are instead floating in the universe all by yourself. It's these range of emotions that lend this album its weight and will ensure its longevity.
on January 21, 2013
This is a gorgeous record, "inside and out." I had no idea that it included a whole 20 minutes of songs that you literally cannot get any other way (spotify, cd, etc.) The star 12-minute track, my favorite, "Bay of Pigs (Detail)" takes up an entire side of one LP. A great price for such a treat!